Autumn: Nostalgia, Regret & Pumpkin Flavored Everything
Western New York Autumn. It's crisp. You get to wear boots, scarves, and closed toed shoes. The leaves change, football starts, sweatshirts come out, there are campfires, pumpkin flavored lattes, apples to be picked, pies and soups to be made. It's a lovely season really.
Fall has always been my favorite season, but New York fall is different than the fall of North Carolina. And New York fall comes with a heavy dose of nostalgia.
It was during a New York fall that I ventured eleven hours from home to spend three years of my life at a somewhat isolated college. In the grand scheme of things, three years isn't all that long, but my time at Houghton feels like a very big chapter of my life. It's what landed me in New York in the first place, and I've been here ever since. Some of my time there was difficult and painful. Some of it was frustrating. But some of it was the best times of my life---and the farther removed I am, the more those good times linger and the frustrations fade.
Houghton is special. It has its challenges just like any school, but it is special none the less. The professors I had were some of the best. The friends were even better. The campus was beautiful and the isolation actually encouraged strong bonds and creative memories. I met some of the most amazing people there, and we always wondered how the other person ended up at this little known school.
The trouble with college is that you can't go back. Even though the buildings remain, and maybe even some of the teachers, the campus is ever changing. The friends that became your family move on and staying behind doesn't preserve it. Returning to visit can take you back in time, but it cannot truly recreate it.
There's a lot I could say about what I specifically miss about college and none it means that I don't love my life now, but regret seeps in every Fall when I think about the friendships gained and the friendships lost.
The trouble with college-Noelle was that she genuinely wanted to know everyone. College is one of the only times in life where meeting new people and trying new things is encouraged and practically defines your time there. I met so many people at Houghton and had so many adventures with them. I imagine that most of them I could call up any time for a cup of coffee or even a couch to crash on. I could comfortably have a conversation for hours and leave with a hug goodbye. I value those friendships and some of them I still talk to on a regular basis. But the fatal flaw in pursuing friendships with many is that you lose the depth you could have had if you'd spent more energy on just a few. In a culture that is constantly moving, staying close to friends from your past becomes more and more difficult. What helps make it easier is when you have a close-knit group that see's each other periodically in groups for major life events. I have some of that. I have some friends that will always be in my life. But I'm realizing that I missed out on a lot of that. As life has moved from the fluidness of being single into a world of marriages, babies, and change---I find many relationships are slowly fading away...even ones that I'd hoped would in my life for the long haul.
So as the weather changes and my heart fills with memory...I can't help but feel regret mixed in as I find myself missing people who were a big part of my life then and only a small part now.